Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kids & Butterflies on Wisconsin's Rustic Road 107

It's one of the best and most interesting 6.7 miles I've ever driven. 

That's what I told Andrea, my neighbor-down-the-road, when she asked me to recommend a place to take her kids (Rocco, 8-1/2 and Skylar, 6-2/4) to get up-close with nature in west-central Wisconsin's Lower Chippewa River valley.

Today my husband, Tom, and I took them on a guided tour.

We hopped into my Prius and went for a spin down Wisconsin's Rustic Road 107.  Rocco and Sky are in to butterflies right now - and this is one of the best places for a local butterfly safari.

After a quick pit stop at the Durand Library, we headed off to County Road M, where we stopped to watch a dickcissel up on an electrical wire between the road and newly mowed field.  As he sang his signature "dick-ciss-el" song, I wondered if he had found a mate this year and if they'd managed to "beat the mowers" to fledge their young.

Further down the road we spotted a Lark Sparrow hunting insects along the roadside.  We stopped to watch him dart out on to the road to finish-off the bugs that had been hit by cars.  Easy pickin's.

After we turned on to R107, we focused our attention on butterflies.  We stopped several times so Rocco and Sky could practice using the net - catching, getting a close look then releasing several species of butterflies - but mostly sulphurs, whites and emperors.

We stopped for a picnic lunch (while watching birds - fledgling grackles, a spotted sandpiper and several of Wisconsin's official state bird - American Robins) at the boat launch in Meridean.  Before we knew it, it was time to head for home.

The highlight of the day:  finding a huge Monarch caterpillar and tiny (as in "the size of the head of a pin") Monarch eggs! Rocco knew just where to look - on the underside of a soft fresh milkweed leaf.

For Rocco, the worst part of the day was the discovery the TICK that had had him for lunch!  Ouch!

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